Black business woman

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In the second part of her blog post, Candice Gray-Bernard shares her collected treasure trove of inspiration from women of colour in business, as well as her own experiences of moving into senior management.

Know your worth

There is insurmountable evidence that women rarely negotiate salaries. In a survey conducted by Glassdoor 68% of women accepted the salary they were offered and did not negotiate. According to Carla Harris, Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley women often go into roles because we need a job or want a particular job without knowing the market value of that job.  Harris recommends seeking the assistance of an executive recruiter or reference one of the many websites such as Glassdoor.com, Salary.com or Payscale.com.

Women are pre-conditioned to think that asking for a better compensation package is seen as aggressive and improper. This is compounded with unconscious self-biases such as self-doubt or feelings of being ‘under-qualified’. I encourage you to develop an inventory of your qualifications, skills, talents and experiences (both negative and positive). This goes a long way in combating unconscious self-biases, after all ‘seeing is believing’ and is invaluable for crafting powerful resumes.

Build your community

Dr. Terari Trent author of “The Awakened Women” refers to this as “establishing your Sahwiras”.  It is essential for a woman to build mutually supportive relationships with other women. In her book “Own It: The Power of Women at WorkSallie Krawcheck likens networks to a good investment portfolio – “the great ones can have an extremely high ROI, but not right away, and often not from the source that one might expect”.   Krawcheck proposes four core rules for networking:

  1. Try to meet at least one new person every month, or significantly deepen an existing relationship
  2. Do something nice for someone in your network every week.  It doesn’t have to be a big bang
  3. Spend time with professionals who are different from you
  4. If you don’t get a response to your emails or phone calls, don't take it personally. Reach out again in a week or two.

I encourage you to develop an inventory of your qualifications, skills, talents and experiences (both negative and positive).

Personally, I found such a community of women in the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago. However, there are many global networks available depending on your specific need. I recommend Driven Woman.

Within your network strive to have a mentor. Feedback is like a double edge sword – positive and negative. However, feedback through mentorship can not only lead to professional and personal growth and development, but can transform into sponsorship – the person in the room that fights for you

Finally don’t forget to pay it forward. Become a mentor to someone else. You may find that through this relationship you are being ‘reversed mentored’.

Silence isn’t golden

Women who speak up, who are straightforward, direct, determined, assertive or persuasive are described as feisty, cold, abrasive, pushy, bossy to name a few adjectives. I am certainly no stranger to this. Black women in particular are stereotyped as aggressive – “the angry black woman”.  Sue Hawkes author of “Chasing Perfection” recommends embracing “your inner B.I.T.C.H” by reframing negative messages into affirming ones. Most importantly do not allow yourself to be coerced into silence. 

It’s a wrap!

As we draw closer to the end of a colourful 2020, celebrations such as Black History Month are even more fundamental in reframing mindsets, stereotypes, biases and norms that have historically and are currently hindering people of colour. “Every person, regardless of their ethnicity or background, should be able to fulfil their potential at work” (Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE). There is certainly a valid business case. For example, according to the Race in the Workplace report it is estimated that the potential benefit to the UK economy is £24 billion per annum, representing 1.3% of GDP if BAME talent is fully utilized.

As a Black woman, a wife and mother I leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me?” – Ayn Rand

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Candice Gray-Bernard

About Candice Gray-Bernard

Global Online MBA 2019
Candice Gray (Global Online MBA 2019) is a practicing civil engineer and certified programme manager with over 17 years’ experience planning, designing, implementing and monitoring major capital projects and pre-investment studies in the fields of coastal engineering, drainage and flood management and agriculture/fisheries.

Candice’s life mission is 'to be a builder of tomorrow's world'. This has driven her passion for service both professionally and personally. She has served in varying capacities on the board of the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago.